Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Kramer Books and Afterwords Cafe

"Excuse me, but what delicious thing did you order?" I asked the innocent women unwittingly seated next to me at Kramer Books and Afterw0rds Cafe. The plate of beauty had three little mounds of grain: farro, cracked wheat and quinoa, surrouned by slow cooked chicken and slices of deep purple heirloom tomato. I ordered it immediately with the recommended white wine and it was exactly what I needed on a hot and steamy night.
I consider myself pretty well verse in the world of unusual grains, but farro and I only have a casual relationship; whereas quinoa and cracked wheat have been good housemates for for quite sometime. So, I begin dating farro. What do you do with a new potential? Google him of course!

Farro is one of the oldest grains around...it is the ancestor of modern wheat, first cultivated domestically around 11,500 BC in the fertile crescent near Israel. The french saved this traditionally Italian grain from anonymity by introducing it to haut cuisines in hearty vegetable soups. Farro has almost double the protein and fiber of conventional wheat and it is full of complex carbohydrates for long burning energy. I would describe this grain as the Cabernet sauvignon of the grain world, moist and full bodied.

Farro is staging a resurgence in restaurants all over the country. It can be used in almost any recipe calling for barley or spelt (its closest sibling) but the cooking time must be adjusted. Usually, I think of farro as a savory item, but as noted in Cook & Eat, making farrow pudding is an outstanding concept. I like the looks of this epicurious recipe: Farro Salad with Peas, Asparagus and Feta.
I followed my delicious and healthy dinner with a equally tasty, but nutritionally lacking strawberry shortcake (do you think the cookie cancels the antioxidents from the berries!?). This was one of my favorite nights in DC. Thanks DuPont Circle, I'll miss you, I'm back home in Minneapolis on Saturday, and looking forward to some Minnesota sweetcorn!

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